Market Commentary 1/28/22, Market Commentary 1/28/22

Market Commentary 1/28/22

Fed Set To Raise Rates Elevates Market Unease

This week’s widely anticipated Fed meeting confirmed to markets that inflation is an ongoing problem. To calm inflation and inflation-related expectations, the Fed is reversing course by running off QE and warning the markets that short-term interest rates will rise this year. They are less concerned about the markets going down, especially given the run-up in asset prices over the last two years.  It is important for investors to understand that the Fed has been very dovish with policy for many years (minus short periods of time that the Fed tried to be more hawkish). It has been understood that the Fed would step in should markets go down. However, with CPI running near 7% and the PCE running near 5%, the Fed is faced with both a mounting inflation problem and a tight employment market, which increases the chances that they will be self-fulfilling.  We believe inflation for goods and services will likely come down, but we are less convinced that wage inflation will cool off. There are simply too many job openings and too few employees willing to fill these jobs. Higher wages will be needed to inspire individuals who have left the workforce back into it. This has pushed the Fed to act on inflation while the U.S. economy is still relatively strong. 

Since the start of 2022, equity, crypto, and bond markets have experienced heightened volatility.  This volatility is probably a good thing in the long term as it will squash speculation (think Meme stocks) and slow growth in asset classes like real estate.  While we all welcome healthy appreciation in the assets we own, outsized year-over-year gains in any market are troubling. Many individuals, especially younger ones, believe markets only go up. That is far from true. 

Volatile equity and crypto markets are positive for the housing market, as individuals seek to buy property for its durability and stability. While rising rates will create more friction between buyers and sellers on an agreed-upon sales price, the stability of owning hard assets cannot be discounted.  Also, lenders remain committed to keeping business flowing. They are taking less of a margin in order to hold down interest rates and lure in prospective borrowers. Keep an eye on the 10-year as it has moved up and is settling in around 1.82%.  A quick rise above 2.22% could be painful for all markets, real estate included. 

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These are the opinions of the author. For financial advice, please talk to your CPA or financial professional.